The Desk

Impression: British Museum
British Museum
Number: 129
Date: 1874/1876
Medium: drypoint
Size: 216 x 139 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 6
Catalogues: K.133; M.131; W.104
Impressions taken from this plate  (6)


It may have been printed with the intention of publishing it with the 'Cancelled Set' by the Fine Art Society, London, in 1879 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1330501), but was not actually published with the set.


Only one exhibition is recorded in Whistler's lifetime. An impression was lent by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1330302). 4

After Whistler's death, Freer lent his impression to the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and one was also shown in the London Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905. 5

4: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 98).

5: New York 1904a (cat. no. 111); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 104).


It was rare, with only six uncancelled impressions located. Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought an impression from the firm of Max Williams & Co. in 1893 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1330302). Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) owned one, which was sold through A. A. Hahlo & Co., New York, to Harris G. Whittemore (d. ca 1937), and later bought with the Pennell Fund for the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. (Graphic with a link to impression #K1330102). The British Museum acquired a worked proof in 1907 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1330402). Another impression, from the collections of Charles C. Cunningham (1910-1979) and Otto Gerstenberg (1848-1935), went eventually to the National Gallery of Australia (Graphic with a link to impression #K1330z01).